ltsp local apps + nat + ....

R. Scott Belford scott at
Fri Jul 24 21:55:19 BST 2009

On Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 10:07 AM, Jordan
Erickson<jerickson at> wrote:
> R. Scott Belford wrote:
>> *snip*
>> The idea of limiting the focus is a good one.  I am immensely
>> frustrated that first Redhat, then Novell, and now Canonical overlook
>> the long-term benefits from a decided focus on the K12 market.
>> --scott
> My shot at an explanation is that "it's not a profitable market" for
> huge companies like that. What I find interesting is that it's a VERY
> profitable market for smaller service providers (like me, who is an
> outside consultant for schools, bringing this technology to them and
> helping them maintain, learn and teach it themselves).

Perhaps my perspective is skewed by the fact that our Department of
Education is not like the rest of those in the U.S..  We don't have
multiple, geographically distinct districts.  We have one District,
one Superintendent, one Vice-Superintendent, multiple Complex Area
Superintendents, one office of NSSB, ATRB, OCCIS, CSD, and all those
things that arise in a centrally controlled system with 2 Billion
Dollar budget.

FOSS loses here because there is not one entity to assume
responsibility for the software licenses we expect to pay for.
Period.  We, as in our DOE, expect to pay something to someone.  I
have written about this phenomenon, and how the FOSS community has
missed it, on the K12OSN list in my OPM (other people's money)
Addiction in Education essay.

I experienced it two weeks ago.  A school's Tech Coordinator (the
glorified teacher in charge of running an Enterprise with teacher's
credentials) showed Open Office to her teachers.  She wanted them to
use it in lieu of licensing MS Office.  The teachers wanted to see the
Word Art feature.  The Tech Coordinator could not find it.  She
blushed, and they bought MS licenses.

I told her that this was my fault.  Had I known, and had I offered to
license OO to them, then we would have A Forced Feedback Loop
Apprising the OO Developers of a Lost Opportunity.  Without this, or
without her willingness to contact the OO Developers on her own, how
does anyone know?  This bleeds in to the ongoing discussion of
feedback, user response, etc., so to keep it on topic..

How does this affect Ubuntu/Canonical?  Well, I can tell you that I
brought Novell out here, catalyzed their meetings with the key DOE
parties above, and soon our DOE offered the first Linux+ Certification
in a secondary school system.  I never got the strong push from them,
though, to follow through.  It is left to partners, and partners are
not big enough for this client.  I've never gotten a response from Red
Hat.  Sun has a good team that calls on me prior to its visits here,
and a certain company has recently finally "gotten it" and is about to
do something special here.

Canonical left me hanging on meetings with the CIO of The University
of Hawaii, and the Vice-Superintendent of our Department of Education.
 I not only targeted the highest executives present at Linuxworld
2008, particularly at IBM's reception at The W, secondarily at the
show, and finally at the SVLUG Picnic, but also followed through and
pre-arranged meetings with these entities.  They look for someone
bigger than you or I to discuss licensing services from.  If we
represent Ubuntu, they'd like to believe that someone in charge of
Ubuntu understands how big they are.

So my own experience, not from griping, but from endeavoring to build
the local relationships required to accelerate the global adoption of
FOSS, have left me believing at this point that all but MS, Apple, and
an un-mentioned company actually *understand* the principals of
marketing, branding, and building a long-term customer base.

If I were in a smaller market, Jordan, I may very well have your own
perspective.  I often wish I were.  I am a student of one of the
Everett Rogers' students who helped on the research for 'Diffusion of
Innovations,' so I've tracked down all components of our adoption
curve and nurtured their progress.  However, in Hawaii, even the
bravest early adopter has no choice but to care about what the
Superintendent wants.  Hawaii is no place to be unemployed.  We're an
island, so you can't get a U-Haul, drive a few states away, and start

Consequently, we need more than my good efforts to generate the
revenue required to reach the next plateau with FOSS.  I really
thought Canonical would be it.  I do, however, have a plan, so it's

> This is the ecosystem as I see it - it is *simple* to make money with
> open source software. Instead of selling the software, service providers
> sell their services. They then help fund development of open source
> projects they are involved with with some of the profit. Of course, a
> lot of people don't care about the money. In that case, there is always
> the foundation of FOSS - people who are passionate about making awesome
> software together as a community.

Personally, I don't see this as simple.  Make no mistake, this is the
model I advocate, but, it is 1000 times easier to invoice for a
software 'license', for pre-installed hardware, or for training, than
it is for support.  Here I have to collect for support in our DOE
*after* it's been completed, approved by the school, and then paid by
another, geographically separate department, if everything is in
order.  This means 90 days, but this is also the way Government is, so
I embrace it.

I've tried the above model, and I still perpetuate it through HOSEF
and my weekly Free workshops and monthly Free presentations at our
University and our mirror, etc..  Schools do better with appliances,
with training sessions, with maintenance contracts, and with things
that are easy to understand and pay for.  I now sell 'licensed'
installations of FOSS that are good for the lifetime of the client as
long as they obey the gpl/etc..

This is the opportunity lost first by Red Hat, then by Novell, and
now, it seems, by Canonical.  Yes, it's good for the "little guys."
Meanwhile, the real momentum from the markets we need is left to the
"big guys."

> Cheers,
> Jordan/Lns



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